The Slatest

Why Did Police Take So Long to Arrest Former NFL Star Darren Sharper for Serial Rape?

Darren Sharper at a February 2014 court appearance in Los Angeles.

Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times/Pool/Reuters

An article co-published Wednesday by ProPublica, the New Orleans Advocate, and Sports Illustrated documents the many rapes committed by former NFL safety Darren Sharper—and makes the case that authorities could have caught him earlier and perhaps prevented more than one crime had police in any of several cities done more research into his background.

In the piece’s telling, Sharper’s history with law enforcement appears to date back to at least 2011, shortly after he retired from the NFL, when his name was mentioned by a possible sexual assault victim in Miami Beach. He was then the subject of sex crime investigations in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Tempe, Arizona, in 2013—but not arrested until he was named by victims in a second Los Angeles case in January 2014. Until that arrest, no investigators in any of the cities where Sharper had committed crimes knew about the allegations elsewhere, and none had contacted police departments in the other cities where he was known to have lived or spent time. This lack of communication, the piece by ProPublica, et al., says, is representative of a broader problem; according to the piece, law enforcement agencies investigating sexual assault cases often fail to coordinate with other agencies or seek out other victims of the same perpetrator even though rapists are often serial offenders.

Though Sharper was finally caught, and despite pleading guilty to rape and sexual assault charges involving nine women in four states, he may end up serving a total of only 10 years in jail.